It is now time to uncork the champagne and celebrate! California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, signed a budget that includes health coverage for all low-income children, regardless of immigration status today.
Under the signed budget, California will provide coverage for allow-income children regardless of immigration status. Coverage would begin in May 2016. The expansion is projected to cost $40 million in the next fiscal year and $132 million when fully implemented. Immigrant children who are currently ineligible for coverage because of their immigration status would be enrolled in Medi-Cal, but the coverage will be paid for with state funds. According to the Berkeley labor center, up to 170,000 undocumented children under age 19 would gain coverage. In California, children in families with incomes up to 266 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for Medi-Cal.
This is a huge victory, not only for the children who become eligible due to this law, but also for eligible but unenrolled children living in mixed immigration status families in California. The message of “coverage for all children regardless of immigration status” is a powerful welcome mat that can encourage parents—who have not enrolled their children in coverage in the past—to sign them up Medi-Cal. And, brothers and sisters in low-income immigrant families—whether undocumented, lawfully residing, or citizens—will all be eligible for coverage.
There is still more work to be done to ensure that low income parents and other adults members of these families also have access to affordable health coverage in California, but this is a great start.
I am looking forward to sharing more information as children’s advocates in California gear up for the enrollment efforts to come!